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It might seem counter-intuitive, but the focus of retail centers should not be retail—according to Kevin Kelley, founding partner and principal at Shook Kelley. Kelley does not mean to say that retail or retail brands aren’t important, but rather that shopping is now secondary to experience or gathering. The most successful shopping centers have what he calls a bonfire—an area where people can gather and interact. Retail is then something that congregators will fall into as part of the experience.

“It isn’t the physical shape of retail that is changing, but it is the message and the values around it that has changed,” Kelley tells GlobeSt.com. “Consumers just don’t like the idea of retail theme parks. People have gotten tried of seeing similar stores, and we are intrigued by where people are going and where they are frequenting. We are looking at places like La Brea, where there is a lot of movement happening, or the Arts District. Retail is not driving those locations. People are going to those because places have a soul and a story, and they generally have a place where people can gather. Retail then becomes a byproduct of those places.”

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Kelsi Maree Borland

Kelsi Maree Borland is a freelance journalist and magazine writer based in Los Angeles, California. For more than 5 years, she has extensively reported on the commercial real estate industry, covering major deals across all commercial asset classes, investment strategy and capital markets trends, market commentary, economic trends and new technologies disrupting and revolutionizing the industry. Her work appears daily on GlobeSt.com and regularly in Real Estate Forum Magazine. As a magazine writer, she covers lifestyle and travel trends. Her work has appeared in Angeleno, Los Angeles Magazine, Travel and Leisure and more.

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